College Football Player Fractures Spine During Game

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By the CNN Wire Staff

(CNN) — A Tulane University football player was in an Oklahoma hospital after fracturing his spine during a game Saturday, leaving him motionless on the field, a team doctor said.

Devon Walker got hurt when he collided head-on with one of his teammates while trying to tackle a Tulsa ball carrier near the end of the first half in the two teams’ game in the northeast Oklahoma city.

The Tulane senior lay motionless as trainers and doctors rushed onto the field.

Dr. Felix Savoie, orthopedist for Tulane University and chief of sports medicine at the school, said Walker “never completely lost consciousness” and was breathing throughout the ordeal.

“It went as well as it can go,” Savoie said of the emergency aid effort, complimenting the Tulsa medical staff and Tulane trainers for effectively stabilizing Walker. “I do not think, based on the information we have, that his life was ever in danger.”

Savoie said Walker has a “cervical spine fracture” as well as an edema — or swelling from a build-up of excess fluid — in his neck.

Walker was in traction and in stable condition Saturday night at St. Francis Hospital in Tulsa, according to the Tulane doctor.

“The plan currently is for him to have surgery in the next day or two,” Savoie said. “There are great spine surgeons and neurosurgeons involved. That’s kind of all we know at this point.”

According to his bio on the Tulane athletics website, the 21-year-old Walker is a senior majoring in cell and molecular biology. The New Orleans native — who weighs 173 pounds and stands 6 feet 1 inch tall — plays safety for the Green Wave, a team he’s played with since walking onto the team and playing nine games as a freshman.

Tulane, which was trailing 35-3 at the time of Walker’s injury, went on to lose the game at H.A. Chapman Stadium by a 45-10 score.

After the game, Green Wave head coach Curtis Johnson explained how he’d told his players after Walker went down to “play one play at a time and let’s do what Devon would do — … go out and play his butt off.”

The coach described the mood in Tulane’s locker room as “somber,” calling Saturday “one of the most difficult days ever.”

“I thought about just saying, ‘Hey, look, let’s not even do anything else, let’s just get on the road and go,” he said.

Walker is planning to attend medical school after graduation, according to Johnson. He described the senior as a “self-made man” who was “probably the emotional leader” of his time, thanks to his “infectious” spirit.

“He loves life, and he loves football,” Johnson said. “(Walker is) a very, very good kid, a very smart kid.”